Updated date:

How to Cope With Losing a Pet: The Day My Dog Died

Leonard is a former teacher and principal who has also been a writer for the past two decades. Writing and animals are his true loves.

The Day My Dog Died: How to Cope With Losing a Pet

The Day My Dog Died: How to Cope With Losing a Pet

Pepper Was My Best Friend

We all have intense moments in our lives which leave imprints that last forever. They can be wonderful and fantastic memories, or dreadful and ghastly. Whatever the case may be, memories never truly leave our mind. One such moment which is frozen in time for me is the day my first dog Pepper died. This actually happened over 30 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It is still that vivid and clear in my brain.

Pepper was my best friend in what can only be called a very troubled childhood. My father had run off from our family when I was at a very young age. This left my brother, Pepper, and me living with my mother who was always working to make ends meet. It is in this tangled web of poverty and turmoil that Pepper and I formed an unbreakable bond. He was an affectionate, loyal, and devoted Shetland Sheepdog. Everywhere I went he came. For all intents and purposes, we were virtually inseparable.

Then one day out of the blue, my father had returned home in an effort to reconnect with my brother and me. It took some time, but after about a month we were partaking in somewhat regular visits. On one particular weekend, he decided to take us with him to his friend’s cottage. I was reluctant to go anywhere without my true buddy Pepper, and I begged and pleaded that he be allowed to come as well. After much pestering, my father agreed and Pepper accompanied us to the cottage.

This was to be the last trip we ever took together. Upon our very arrival, Pepper somehow jumped out the open door of our parked car and took off after a fleeing rabbit. He chased the rabbit right onto the highway where they were both hit and killed by a truck. That was the day my dog died.

The sorrow I felt after the loss of Pepper was extreme. I was utterly inconsolable. I carried this guilt and grief with me for years and would not even consider the option of getting another dog. I saw that prospect as an act of ultimate betrayal. However, when I finally learned how to cope with losing Pepper, I was once again able to enjoy having pets in my life again.

It is bitterly sad to lose your beloved pet, but that grief is only intensified if you are never able to love another. Helping other pet owners is essentially why I have written this article. Read on to discover the various ways I learned how to cope with losing a pet, which made life better for me and my adopted dogs.

When learning how to cope with losing a pet, it is important to remember that grief does not follow a schedule.

When learning how to cope with losing a pet, it is important to remember that grief does not follow a schedule.

1. Recognize That Grief Does Not Follow a Schedule

There are many different theories in regards to how people experience grief. One of the most popular is from the book On Grief and Grieving, by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. In it, they contend that the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When I think back to the death of my dog Pepper, I did undergo these five stages, but I had other emotions and stages as well. Also, they did not really fall into any “set” order. It is very important to remember that everyone grieves differently and according to their own experiences.

While I certainly underwent the grief process, my feelings and emotions would change daily and in a back and forth motion. Just when I thought I had begun to accept the death, I would be hit with waves of anger, guilt, and depression. There was not any type of neat and orderly progression. I learned that grief does not follow any type of preordained schedule. I also discovered that being able to cope meant understanding it was fine to feel how I needed to at that moment.

Crying is a key coping strategy when dealing with the death of a beloved pet.

Crying is a key coping strategy when dealing with the death of a beloved pet.

2. It’s Ok to Cry

In order to come to terms with the loss of your pet, you will first have to give yourself permission to grieve. While this may seem a little obvious at first, it is nevertheless very difficult to do. According to grief coach Dora Carpenter, our society is typically a fast paced environment which does not have much patience for a long grieving process. We are expected to get over it quickly and move on.

When considering that we have lost something which we love dearly, such expectations are ridiculous. Instead of feeling bad or guilty about grieving for your pet, try to understand that it is a necessary part of healing. This whole process will also more than likely be accompanied by many tears. That too is perfectly fine and a much-needed part of the process.

In fact, in a study conducted by researcher William Frey, it was found that emotional tears contained toxic substances that build up during emotional stress. Crying, in turn, is a beneficial process which removes toxins from the body. In other words, crying it out makes a person feel much better. Considering all of this, giving yourself permission to grieve and cry is an actual key coping strategy when dealing with the death of a beloved pet.

A good support network is will help you cope with your loss.

A good support network is will help you cope with your loss.

3. Find Meaningful Support

As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, you will encounter people who will minimize your loss. Unfortunate comments such as, “It was just a pet, you can get a new one,” will be made in attempt to make you feel “better.” In my own case, my father’s favorite line was to tell me it could have been much worse and I was lucky someone other than my dog didn’t get hurt.

Believe it or not, these people are actually trying to help in their own way. However, what they are actually doing in reality is minimizing your heartbreaking loss and making the situation much worse. They could not possibly understand the bond you had with your pet. It is best to avoid these individuals until you are in a better place emotionally.

That does not mean that you should avoid everyone, however. There are a number of people and support groups who will be understanding and give you an empathetic and sympathetic ear to express your grief to. Fellow pet lovers, veterinarians, grief counselors and pet loss support groups are wonderful places to turn. The following books and support websites are excellent resources to help you learn to cope with losing a pet:

Books

  • Grieving the Death of a Pet, by B.J. Carmack
  • Saying Goodbye to the Pet you Love, by L.A. Green and J. Landis
  • How to Roar: Pet Loss Grief Recovery, by Robin Jean Brown
  • The Loss of a Pet, by Wallace Sife
  • When a Family Pet Dies: A Guide to Dealing with Children’s Loss, by Joann Tuzeo-Jarolmen

Support Websites and Hotlines

  • The Animal Love and Loss Network (on Facebook)
  • ASPCA National Pet Loss Helpline (1-877-474-3310)
  • Rainbow Bridge
  • The Humane Society of the United States (information on coping with the loss of a pet).
  • The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (nonprofit association dedicated to helping people cope with the loss of a pet)
Memorializing your pet will ultimately help you to cope.

Memorializing your pet will ultimately help you to cope.

4. Memorialize Your Pet

One of the most valuable methods for coping with the loss of a pet is planning a memorial. This can take many forms such as:

  • Planning a funeral or memorial service.
  • Burying your pet’s ashes underneath a tree which is newly planted in their honor.
  • Creating a plaque in memory of your beloved pet which is placed at their final resting place.
  • Donate in your pet’s name to organizations which help animals.
  • Put together a slideshow of your favorite moments with your pet.

Whatever the case may be, the memorial is an opportunity to come to terms with your loss. It will essentially force you to face the loss and begin the very important grieving process. It will also allow you to relive many of the great memories you had with your pet. Furthermore, you will be able to connect with others who understand your loss and can provide that supportive network which you will need. Lastly, it will honor the life of your pet and will stand as an everlasting tribute to their life.

Our goal is not to forget about our pet . . . it is to learn how to cope with losing them. In my personal circumstance, when Pepper died, none of this occurred. There was never any celebration of life or any type of closure. He was just gone. This left an empty hole in my heart which took a lot of time and deliberate effort to repair.

Taking care of yourself will help you cope with your loss.

Taking care of yourself will help you cope with your loss.

5. Take Care of Yourself

When considering grief, many individuals see it as a sad and tragic time. While that is certainly true, it is also much more than that. Grieving is actually an exhausting process which takes a tremendous toll on a person emotionally, mentally and physically. It takes an abundance of energy to grieve.

Unfortunately, people who are undergoing this emotional turmoil will not tend to take care of themselves very well. Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, weakened immune systems and little exercise are all typical when grieving the loss of your beloved pet. However, to properly cope with this loss, it is vitally important to reverse this unhealthy trend and take proper care of yourself.

For instance, eating nutritious food can provide you with essential vitamins and minerals which will help your physical health and improve your mood at the same time. Proper sleep quality is also vital to self-care and has a huge impact on improving emotional stability and mood. Lastly, exercise will produce pain-killing endorphins in the body which will, in turn, improve mood and feelings of well-being.

It is important to plan ahead for triggers when grieving.

It is important to plan ahead for triggers when grieving.

6. Plan Ahead for Triggers

One of the most difficult things for me to handle when I was dealing with the death of my dog Pepper was the constant reminders of him. We were inseparable and did everything together, and as such, I was reminded of him and our time together every single day. Something as simple as walking down the pet food aisle in the grocery store, or passing our favorite park, would bring forth a flood of emotions and grief. In truth, I was constantly encountering things which would trigger my grief in a negative way. It was only when I acknowledged and planned ahead for these inevitable triggers that I was truly able to reverse this negative trend.

Essentially, the constant triggers were reawakening grief within me. I would immediately remember Pepper, and more importantly . . . the day he died. When I was triggered I did not recall the amazing times which we had spent together. I was entirely fixated upon the day he died. After the passage of time, I began to accept that there would always be triggers, and I began to prepare for them. They could not simply just be avoided.

I slowly began to turn the negative into a positive. I would force that awful day out of my head and deliberately remember the fun and loving times we had spent together. In this way, the memories which were triggered began to be pleasant and happy ones. It was not an easy process and there were setbacks. However, it was one of the most powerful coping mechanisms I was able to employ. Instead of crying when triggered, I would often smile. To properly prepare and plan ahead for triggers, the following are some useful steps:

  • Always be prepared: Realize and acknowledge that inevitable triggers will be everywhere
  • Focus on the positive: Remember the good times you had with your pet when your memories are triggered. Try to recall the laughing and playing.
  • Employ distraction techniques: Sometimes a memory or trigger will simply be too raw and powerful (such as a doggy birthday). Use a distraction technique such as getting together with friends to get through the day.
  • Acknowledge various emotions: There will be a number of emotions you encounter when learning to accept and plan ahead for triggers. You may be laughing and crying at the same time!
  • Be easy on yourself: It all takes time and there will be struggles. Be easy on yourself and move forward at your own speed.
Being kind to others is an excellent way to cope.

Being kind to others is an excellent way to cope.

7. Be Kind to Others

There can be little doubt that being patient and kind to yourself is a key part of coping with the grief which accompanies losing a pet. Interestingly, being good and kind to others will help you a great deal as well. There are a number of simple but effective ways in which we can be kind to others. Some typical examples are:

  • Showing a genuine interest in them.
  • Smiling and being polite.
  • Helping with daily tasks.
  • Volunteering your time to help out a worthy cause.
  • Donating to important animal rescue organizations.

While all of these methods will help others, they are also great ways to cope with losing a pet. For instance, they will distract us from the sadness and grief which we are experiencing. Even these fleeting distractions are so very much appreciated. Also, kindness greatly improves the way we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we are kind, a number of stress-reducing and calming chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin are released into the body. In turn, this all works together to make the individual feel less anxious, happier and more relaxed. Being kind to others is an excellent way to cope with losing a pet. Kindness, too, benefits ourselves as well as others!

Getting back to routines and schedules will help you to cope.

Getting back to routines and schedules will help you to cope.

8. Maintain a Routine

The ability to keep a consistent routine in your life can be a very useful way to help cope with the loss of a pet. It will provide purpose and structure in your life and distract you from the overwhelming sadness. Getting back to your usual routines, hobbies and activities will bring a whole new level of happiness and enjoyment into what can otherwise be a very unbearable time.

Also, you may be responsible for other pets and this is an important factor which should not be overlooked. If that is indeed the case, they are going to need consistent structure and routines as well. Similar to you, your other pets will very likely be mourning the loss, too. By getting back to routines and schedules, you will be helping them and yourself deal with the loss of your pet.

Planning to get a new pet helps some people begin to gradually move on.

Planning to get a new pet helps some people begin to gradually move on.

9. Consider Planning to Get a New Pet

Our final method to cope with the loss of a pet is somewhat controversial. Many people will begin planning to get a new pet to help ease the passing of their departed one. However, it is important to note that this is something which is very personal in nature and everyone will approach it differently. Some people will want to do this immediately, while others will wait years or have no interest whatsoever in ever getting a new pet.

It is important that if someone does decide to plan to get a new pet, that they are clearly ready for it and not just doing it as a virtual “rebound reaction.” This would not be fair to the memory of their deceased pet, and certainly not to the new animal. When and if you are ready to start planning for a new pet, it is very likely that you will just know. There should be a feeling of peace within you. Still sadness, yes, but also peace. Not only will this help you with the grieving process, but it will assist another animal as well. There are countless animals which need to be adopted to a good home. You can make that happen for them as you continue to cope and come to terms with the loss of your pet.

Final Thoughts

The loss of your pet can be an incredibly sad and challenging time. My personal opinion is that the loss of my first dog was one of the most difficult times of my life. I could barely function for a long period of time. It was that devastating! However, I eventually learned how to cope with the loss of my pet.

It was certainly not an easy experience. There were many ups and downs as I tried to figure it all out on my own. That was 30 years ago, and the memories are still fresh within my mind. However, the difference is that I now remember the good times with a smile on my face.

Nevertheless, while writing this article, I often had to look at the words while my vision was blurred by tears. It produced a range of emotions within me as I virtually relived the past. My genuine hope remains that my own experience will help others learn how to cope with losing a pet. If that was accomplished then it was well worth it.

Please Contribute to the Discussion:

Resources

  1. On Grief and Grieving. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross M.D. and David Kessler. 2014.
  2. "Give Yourself Permission to Grieve." Dora Carpenter. Ezine articles. 2017.
  3. "The Miracle of Tears." Jeremy Bergman. 1993.
  4. "Ten Ways to Cope With the Loss of Your Pet." Cedarview Animal Hospital, Ottawa.
  5. "Three Benefits of Memorial Tributes." Beth Jackson. Beryl Martin Tributes. 2015
  6. "Happy Brain, Happy Life." Susan Reynolds. Psychology Today. 2011.
  7. "What is Kindness?" The Positive Psychopedia.
  8. "5 Ways to Deal With a Pet’s Death." Aleisha Fetters. Prevention Magazine. 2012.
  9. "Ten Tips on Coping With Pet Loss." Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed. The Pet Loss Support Page.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

JY on August 27, 2020:

I lost my 2 frenchies, 1.5yo and 9.5mo on 25-08-2020.

They were boarding and the caretaker got distracted and forgot about them and left them locked in the car with the engine off.

When I got to the vet, I was already looking at their cold, wet and stiff bodies.

I felt such intense pain, it is indescribable.

Today, they returned home in their urn. They were lovely half brothers that shared the same father, and now, they will be forever together. The only consolence is that they didn't leave alone, all the pain and fear they felt in the last moment of their life is over.

I hope they are at the rainbow bridge, waiting to cross over and that they have a big place to run about, many friends to play with and lots of treats to eat. No more bath times, no more food restriction, no more pain, no more fear, no more loneliness.

I love my boys.. Forever.

Sasha Sawyer on August 21, 2020:

I lost my 9.5 year old dog this morning. He was a stray whom I rescued, but it happened in such a way that another dog of mine got friendly with him on the road and brought him home. He lived with me ever since. Stray dogs are strong and don't display any symptoms until they are actually very sick, which is what happened to him. He became ill about 1.5 months ago and we found out it was kidney failure.Despite the grim prognosis, he lived and ate all his meals although he walked slower. The last 24 hours his condition worsened, but I'm thankful the suffering was not prolonged. I'm crying today, I miss him!

Paulyn on August 06, 2020:

My son and I lost our Basset Hound, Kester, today. I have no words to describe how devastated we are. Kester was almost 10. He was just so adorable, sweet and clingy --he never wanted to be left alone. He was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) after a biopsy and some obvious signs like swollen cheeks, throat and ears, only a few days ago. He just became weaker in the vet, but he would try to get up when he saw us. We brought him home for a night thinking we could take care of him. But he needed medication so he was back at the vet. We could see that he was in pain, yet he tried to get up when he saw us, only to collapse and moan. We agreed to put him to sleep. It was more of agreeing to end his pain. We saw the whole process until held on to him until his last breath. Oh, we love you so much, baby. Go and play with the angels in heaven. You left with half of my whole being. I will never be complete and whole again. Missing you so much now.

Michael M. on July 22, 2020:

First, to the author of this article, thank you for your words. Secondly, to my fellow commenters, believe me, I feel your pain. Today we put down my very best friend of 8 years, Gus the Boxer. I have never known a more caring, intelligent, and faithful being and his loss has completely broken me. I hope you all are able to find peace.

Alex on July 02, 2020:

Lost my buddy last night . He was my wife's dog and she's grief stricken too but he was just as much my dog and brought me immeasurable happiness. I thank god that the time during which he was nolonger able to walk and the time he passed on was only two days. We cared for him more intensely and diligently during that time and put him on our bed, his happy place to be comfortable and die. He passed on surrounded by friends and family, petting him, licking him(other pets) and talking to him. Just the perfect dog.

Missing you greatly Winston

AlexandraEnglish on June 29, 2020:

We lost our beautiful boy ‘Monty’ on Sunday I can’t believe it. He was running around the fields and jumping in the river eight days ago. I miss him desperately he was my friend, my gorgeous boy. I loved him so much.

Vlad on June 03, 2020:

First of all I'm so sorry for everyone's loss :( I have lost my dog today, or should I say a family member, she was about to be 16 years old (human years) next month. I miss her so much and I can't stop crying. Will the pain go away? I would give anything to have her again, and at least a few more years :(

TiYo on June 03, 2020:

We lost Odie on Sunday. Odie was an amazing dog. He loved us so my & we really miss him a lot. It’s been three days & it’s awful with out him. We love him so much it’s hard not imagining him around.

MWT on April 25, 2020:

Today I lost my best friend Iceland. I am devastated and totally clueless as to what has killed him. He was the usual himself playful, cheerful, active three days ago. However yesterday he began to isolate himself, refused to eat, vomit with minor blood. Immediately I brought him to the vet and hospitalised him. Today morning I just went to the vet to cheer him up and he's showing some positive signs that he's drinking some water. Soon after in the afternoon I received a text from the vet saying that Iceland is vomiting a lot of blood and had a seizure. I know from that moment, deep down in my heart he is going to leave us. I was crying all the way to the vet to see that he had gone. I was left confused now how will I live another day without his companion...

Dan on April 12, 2020:

We lost Sydney Friday night. She was only 4 months old but the joy she brought to this family was wonderful. She was a wonderful blue heeler! She was such a smart and wonderful dog. She is sorely missed. Unfortunately, the vet was unable to save her. She suffered from an unknown problem that ended her life prematurely. She is so loved and missed. I seek comfort in knowing that she will make everyone in heaven as happy as she made my family. RIP Sydney, you were a very special part of this family!

cody8466 on March 19, 2020:

I lost my sweet Trixie Monday morning. This all came as a surprise. She was 12 and yes she had a few ailments bad eyes and stiff joints but I just knew I had at least a couple more years with her. It started Sunday she wasn't eating or drinking water and moving a little slower but I had seen this before so I wasn't concerned well Sunday night she seemed a little worse so I said I will take you to the vet Monday morning. Well Monday morning she was worse the vet kept her over night but she didn't get any better so she advised to let her go. She could barely hold her head up and no walking so I know I chose to do the right thing but I just feel so guilty. All my pets before her passed on their own and I swore I would never let a vet take my dog out of her misery but I did and I know it was the right thing to do. All I can do is cry and feel so guilty. I miss her so much. I just keep thinking this has not happened but I look around and realize its true. As much as her snoring had gotten so loud I would give anything to hear that beautiful snore tonight. She was the sweetest and I hope she knows how much I loved her. Thanks

bengy my baby on February 27, 2020:

Hey there, i have recently lost my dog he just turn 2. He was my first dog, all my life ive always wanted one, i was so happy with thim he was literally always with me and whenever i was upset or started crying he would lick off my tears and make me laugh in every sort of way. Unfortunately Bengy died in a car accident 5 days ago, i was taking him out for a walk as usual but the thing is that Bengy will often bark or jump at strangers he was very protective of me another thing was he would do was, chase after motorbikes and cars, so i had to always hold the leash tight whenever a car passed by. However i was too late on the 21st of february at 2pm, it happened so fast i was in shock that i couldnt react quick and i fell to the floor, the man or woman driving did not stop, the car got his neck and there was blood everywhere when i finally reacted i picked him up but all i saw was blood and then started screaming and crying non stop i didnt know what to do because i had forgotten my phone at home however i was 2 minutes away from my house. Suddenly a man walking down the road saw what had happened and came to my rescue he told me to calm down and get my mum, i went home and called my mum then came back running but it was too late. That day i could not stop crying it got to the point where my voice was gone after screaming the whole day yet i couldnt stop, my eyes were swollen, and the first night was one of my toughest nights i have ever experienced as i was used to having my dog sleeping with me at nights. The only way i was and i'am able to sleep now is by having his toys around me as his toys smell remind me of him and allows me to calm down, but also i cant sleep in my room as i have way to many memories of him so at the moment im sleeping in the sofa. I would never though i would feel this much pain. I read this article and ive relised i have been doing this things without even noticing, im taking care of myself by going gym and trying to eat, im trying to get myself distractred by organising my bday party, i've told myself its okay to cry but whenever i tell this to myself i start crying. My dog was very loved by my friends and family as i said before he was very protective of me and did not like strangers however once he got to know you thats it he would give all his love, he was so sweet and knew 15 tricks he was so mart . The day this happened my mum was organizing something big at our house and a lot of people were going to attend but after the incident she had to cancel the event and tell them the bad news. The news spread so quick it reached everyone including family from other countries, that day we received more calls than we imagined, i appreciated the good intentions of the people however i was still in shock, like i would have this constant image in my head of my dog dead in front of me and the blood in my hands so my mum did the talking because i couldnt talk. Until now i suffer inside, before i had Bengy i would often say i feel this emptiness inside me and often blamed my dad for leaving me, no one could fill in that hole of emptiness not even my mum, best friend or boys. Until Bengy did it and now that he is gone that hole is gotten bigger than ever i feel so empty. I'am asking for help because i have done the following remembering the happy moments, taking care of myself, distracting myself with eduaction, work, bday organisation, gym, netflix, i do all of this activities non stop yet i cat ignore the fact i wanna cry all day long. And i don't think i'm ready to have another dog yet because i know no one would be like Bengy, i will jut get disapointed and because of this i may not give all my love to another and i think that every dog deserves to be loved by their owners fully. any advice on what i should do?

Buddy my best friend on February 14, 2020:

I lost my 13 year old Shih tzu today on Valentine’s Day. It was totally unexpected. I still haven’t completely accepted it. I feel numb. He was fine all morning but in the late afternoon he was having trouble breathing. I think he stopped breathing on the way to the ER. They think he had heart failure. I know that soon it will hit me that he’s really gone. Right now I’m hoping it’s just a bad dream.

Dune my beautiful girl on January 28, 2020:

I lost my 3 yr old female mongrel dog last night to poisoning after she had killed a rat a few days ago. Unfortunately we did not know she was Ill as she was the jolly good natured pet she had always been. She used to sleep only on the bed or on my sofa. She was a cherished member of my family and none of us can't get over what happened. She was weak and couldn't stand up for 2 hrs then passed away. She was with my sister and parents and when I got home from work she opened her eyes one last time, looked at me and took her last breath. Mum says she was waiting for us to die. I can't stop crying. It's so hard to lose a dog... She was my baby girl. She was cherished and loved and she loved us unconditionally...

Sue on January 23, 2020:

Hi, I want to thank you for the article. Your story and those in the comment section have been more helpful than I thought possible.

I lost Roscoe earlier today and the hurt is intense. I didn’t know a thing about love until we brought him home 3 years ago. I can’t believe he’s not here with me right now. I can’t believe I won’t see him anymore. He was out for his walk this morning and got loose from his leash. I have no idea how, but he made it to the highway where he was hit by 2 cars. Neither stopped to help him. An absolute angel stopped on the side of the road to help him and called us. She stayed by him until we got there. We were unfortunately too late, and he had already passed. I won’t ever be able to forget how he looked. I can’t imagine how scared and hurt he must’ve felt. I wonder if he was thinking of us in his last moments. My whole family is absolutely devastated, and I’m not sure how we’ll recover from this. The guilt we feel is immense. The suddenness of his passing makes this even more awful. We didn’t even get to say goodbye. I wish he could’ve felt how loved he was one last time. I wish I could’ve apologized before he left. He was the light of our lives. It all seems bleak without him.

Sam on January 03, 2020:

I need some support because i am totally lost and broken.... and I’m sorry for the long post.

Yesterday was by far the worst day of my life.... my sweet girl Missy passed away unexpectedly today and I can’t even describe to you the pain I am feeling. I have never felt so horrible in my life. I don’t think I ever really knew pain and heart ache until today. Let me tell you what happened....

Missy is... was a 10 year old husky/German Shepard mix. I got her for my 21st birthday when she was 5/6 weeks old. She peed on me the minute the lady set her on my lap. I knew she was made for me. She was my first dog that was not a family dog.

It was unlike any other day in our house. My friend came over and we were playing with Missy for a few minutes before we took her in a walk. About 10/15 minutes into the walk, we walked by one of the townhomes on the corner of my complex, they have 2 dogs that bark at everyone walking by and everyday Missy barks back, wagging her tail and jumping around. We walk a few more steps and I felt her stop, figured she had to peed so I turn around and she went down in the back end and had a hard time getting her back end up so I go and just as I am about to help pick her back end up she collapses and starts to have a seizure, I am a vet tech so I know how to handle this, I hold her and make sure she doesn’t hit her head and talk gently to her trying to hold back the tears.... she has never had seizures and has been an extremely healthy dog. She starts to come out of the seizure which lasted what seemed like forever, and she’s screaming crying which I have seen multiple times when a dog comes out of a seizure. I holding her and talking to her. Then, my world came crashing down around me, she stops breathing, I immediately start CPR and begging her to stay with me.... by this time my friend has ran to get my car so we can get her to the vet. I knew it was to late. We get her in the car and I’m in the backseat with her doing CPR and praying for a miracle. We get to the vet and I could not feel a heartbeat. I tell them through my tears to check for a heart beat and if there isn’t one to not continue CPR. She was gone. My sweet girl was gone in the matter of minutes. Since this happened, I have been racking my brain trying to see if I missed something.... how was she acting for the last few days? Fine... eating, drinking and playing. My baby girl is gone. What do I do now? Everytime I have hurt I have sat on the floor and let her lick my tears away.... what do I do now? What do I do without her? She has been my rock through my adult life. How do i even begin to process this? I’m so broken and lost. There are no words for what I am feeling right now..... please tell me I will wake up from this nightmare.

Thank you for reading.

Hug your babies a little tighter tonight....

my heart hurts on December 17, 2019:

I can't stop crying, Zoe was with me everyday for almost 14 years.. This pain is unbearable at times She was smart and beautiful and so very loyal. I miss you Zoe and will love you forever. You will never be forgotten.

My heart hurts on December 13, 2019:

Zoe died last night. I will niss her forever. She was such a good girl. And my best friend.

Anna Casamento Arrigo on October 10, 2019:

I lost my first very best friend when I was 14. She escaped her leash and ran under an oncoming taxi. I,for so very very long felt such an enormous guilt and it took over 10 years before I was able to Welcome another beautiful being into my life. That loss, however, remains to this day,and while I try to live in my Julie’s happy times with me,ei image of her after being trampled and crushed under the wheels of that taxi,have never left. I managed to grieve the passing of four other fur babies, but, my Jager has become an incredible emotionally charged roller coaster ride of emotions. I value this article because,of, I have learned something that may help me grieve as I need to do,but,most importantly, to use/anticipate/plan for those triggers! This is such a wonderful piece on steps we can take and understanding our pain,but moreover, doing something that will help alleviate some of it. Thank you!

(I do have my 13+,Leila, a shih tzu, who had shown signs of her grief: hiding,refusing food,sleeping most of the day,and refusing to be touched. She’s doing better. But, I can definitely feel her change and grief as well. They’d been together over 9 years.)

Mariko on September 21, 2019:

I look my pet less than a week ago. I felt guilty and resentful. We never spent much time together. I felt we should have been together longer. The memories were too few. It was my birthday wish for him to survive and live longer but my prayer wasn't favored. He died few days before I celebrate my birthday or not. This was the most saddest birthday of my life. I still can't cope with his loss. He was the most special among all my dogs.

Vincenzo on September 03, 2019:

I lost my beloved Joey yesterday on September 2nd. It devasted me. She was 14 years old and had a good life, I am sure of it, but still can't believe I won't be able to see her again when I'll be back to my hometown for Christmas. She was brave enough to wait for summer to end to allow my brother and me to see her in our small hometown one last time (because of our jobs we don't live there and Joey stayed with my mother). We got her when I was 14, because my brother always wanted a beagle. My mother at first was contrary, but when she first hold a three months old Joey in her hand it was just love. For the following 5 years she's been the first and last face I'd see every day. After that I started university and left town. I would see her only during holidays, but I would always-always talk about her to everyone I met. I was so happy to have her in my life. I loved her with all my heart. It would not matter the distance and the time apart, as soon as she saw us again, she would start to wag its tail and jump all over us. She also loved to eat, and would do anything for a bite, even jump on the table to steal a slice of ham. She used to sit next to us when eating at the table and wait for anyone to give her something. She was lovely. She also loved to have a stroll or swim in the sea. She loved to lay in the sun and to play with every kind of toys when younger. She loved fresh bread (she could smell it everywhere) and to be petted under her big ears. I loved to just give her infinite kisses and lay next to her to the ground and sleep together next to each other. I would also try to annoy her by blowing wind on her face, or trying to block her way to the kitchen so she would had to find a way to go past my legs. We had so much fun together. And she was so loved, I can't be more grateful for all the love she received. All of my friends would come over to see her (even take her out if I was out of town) and send me pictures of her if not there. She loved my mother, who's always been with her and cooked for her a numberless times. She loved my brother for the long walks. She loved my father as well, which doesn't live with us but used to come over often to take her out (she would recognize the way he buzzed and get instantly excited, cuz she knew she was soon going to go out). Hope she loved me as well, I did my best to show her I much I cared about her. She's just been the best companion I could have asked for, my best friend. She would always be there for me, no matter what, and I am going to deeply miss her. She's been with me half of my life and she was just so important to me. I want to believe she had a good life, full of good food and people who loved her (she was famous in all Italy thanks to all of the stories me and my brother would tell anyone). I will miss you Joey, thank you for being the best friend I could have asked for and for having made these years unforgettable. Thanks for keeping my mother company when we weren't there and thanks for the memories and the good times. I will never forget the way you barked when asking for food or the smell of your fur when i kissed you. Hope you are in a better place, full of food and friends. Please watch over us. Love you immensely forever.

Marcela on August 17, 2019:

I lost my best friend a month and half ago. My sweet Brucey. She made me unbelievably happy. I feel like my heart stopped beating since she died. It still feels surreal. I wake up expecting to see her everyday; then reality sets in, it’s pure torture. She was diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease. A month after diagnosis she was gone. She was in my arms when she took her last breath. Regret and guilt are a constant in my mind. Brucey was my other self. I am eternally grateful for all the love, loyalty and unmatched companionship she unselfishly provided for ten years. I will love you until my last breath dear Brucey. Forever my faithful.

Sebastian on July 02, 2019:

I lost my dog named Oreo 3 years ago. He was only 2 or 3 years old when he passed. I dropped a slice of cheese, and me being the lazy good for nothing that I am, went to do something before picking it up. I forgot about it, and started playing some video game. I looked next to me and there he was dead on the legs of the chair. I called it out to my parents, I was in denial so it sounded like a joke. They didn't believe it until they went downstairs. We drove the body to an animal hospital, they basically said "this right here is a dead dog." They chose the cheapest option, dumping ashes in the mountains. Their excuse was, I think he would have liked that...BS. I didn't feel emotion. I was numb. Now, whenever I think of my old dog, I get a mental image of my new one being dead next to the chair. If I didn't drop that piece of cheese, maybe I would still be somewhat sane.

Sheila on June 24, 2019:

I lost my best friend of 14 years last night. I can't stop crying. My life feels empty without him. He was always following me around the house when i was cleaning or whatever. My life will never be the same. His name was Kip, he was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the bestest friend I've ever had and was very much loved.

Ruthie on May 11, 2019:

My Pixie died 4 days ago. She had a bowel obstruction and died of surgery complications. I took her to the vet every day for close to 10 days and they were unable to save her. I feel guilty that if I had taken her somewhere else she would have survived; that maybe a better skilled doctor would have saved her. How do I stop blaming myself? She was hurting.... I sang and held her telling her it was going to be ok. I feel the vet failed me and I failed her. My heart is broken. How long does it takes to start feeling better.

Anon on April 13, 2019:

I just lost my senior dog yesterday (April 12th 2019) which i had for 13 of my 21 years on this earth. I had a very rough childhood and she was there for me in ways nobody else could. I still have problems with depression and anxiety and i catch myself just about to call her name so she'd come over for comfort but then i realize ''Oh.. Right..''

I've recently lost relatives too but that pain doesn't even come close to this. I've lost my best friend in the whole world.

Al on April 11, 2019:

I lost my dog Luca on Monday he died next to me. I miss him so much. He was the most incredible dog. I can’t seem to stop crying over his loss.

Karen on February 04, 2019:

My beloved baby, Daniel died today. He was only 7 yo and had been the love of our lives. I felt grief and guilt that I was not able to give him the best life he could have, that I was not able to spend enough time with him and denied playing with him whenever he's so excited about it. I am so devastated that I got to spend only the last day with him. I nursed him the whole day and when I put him down because I need to take a bath- that was when he left :( He didn't even said goodbye to me. My baby, still outsmarted me despite the pain he's been feeling due to kidney failure. I love you so much, Daniel. I know my words don't mean a thing anymore but I can't let go. I wish I had done more.. I am sorry I was not good enough. :'(

Deric on January 18, 2019:

Brenda that’s so sad I’m literally in tears.I hope things get better for you.I miss my lil guy so much.I still talk to him at his grave.Losing an animal is like losing a loved one.I pray everyone on here is ok and in good spirits.Itbtruly does hurt.

Brenda on January 03, 2019:

At 3:53 am on 1/1/19 I lost my best friend Ally. Buddy and I were by her side when it happened and I am forever thankful that we were there for her in her last moment. I miss her so much. She was the first and last person I kissed and hugged during the work week and now she's not there. I no longer see here peeking out the window waiting for me as I pull up. The ottoman she used to jump on to get on the bed is still there, her food bowl still has the last vitamin she left behind from that night's dinner. In the mornings I still walk to the pantry to get her medication out but then I remember she's not here so I put the medication back. It's unfair that they are only here for such a short amount of time and I hope that she knew how much I loved her.

Deric on December 29, 2018:

My teacup Yorkie Gizmo died today.It is so hard.I love and miss him so much.I can still hear his little footsteps in the hallway.

E on December 27, 2018:

My dog died today im really sad

Piedmontatl on October 22, 2018:

My dog died two weeks ago today. I miss Jazz so much, my constant companion throughout the day. Just feel so lost.

Anna Casamento Arrigo on September 16, 2018:

My Julie got off her leash and was hit by a car. Her hip bone ripped out of its socket and tore through her skin. She had several surgeries but infection set in. She stopped walking altogether,eating, and, I swear, she had constant tears in her eyes. We had to let her go. The guilt was immense. It took me over 20+years before I became a dog mommy again!

DG Lamb on August 20, 2018:

Very helpful article Leonard. Important information to share.

Haley Belinda on July 20, 2018:

Excellent guidance, I too dreading the loss of my beloved pet of 12 years. As an ex- nurse, I studied the work of Dr Kubler Ross. It is an excellent model for loss of any kind. Thank you for your open expression, I believe it will help a lot of people.

Julia Schmeelk on July 20, 2018:

Great info. My beloved dog is near the end of his life and we, my husband and I are dreading the loss.

Sharon K. Connell on July 20, 2018:

Thanks for this article, Leonard. It's very important. I wrote an article on my blog when I lost each of my beloved furbabies. It helped a lot.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 17, 2017:

You have certainly shared the grief you felt upon the loss of your dear Pepper. Those of us who love our pets never forget them. They are a part of our lives and will remain so in our memories as long as we live.